Snowpocalypse ’10: Five Tips for Teleworking

Winter StormWhile whiteout conditions, widespread power outages and snow-covered roadways might keep some executives home and incommunicado, the fearsome weather proved no match for a dedicated teleworker with a smart phone and a car charger.

Stephen O’Keeffe, executive director of the Telework Exchange told Washington Technology “I was 100 percent on my BlackBerry during the outage,” referring to the two-day power outage at his Alexandria home. “I was in my car, charging it up.  You can keep it running, and in these conditions, the BlackBerry was a lifeline.”

The federal government and most local governments were closed for the first four days this week, with the federal government opening two hours late today, and the combination of car chargers with smart phones like BlackBerrys is gaining attention.

The next time a snowstorm, flash flood or terrorist attack forces you to telework, keep these five tips from the Telework Exchange in mind:

1. Know your Corporate Policies

If you don’t know your company’s telecommuting policy, you could be putting secure information at risk (as well as your job).

Jeremy Miller, director of operations at Kroll Fraud Solutions, told MarketWatch “If [your company] loses information… [due to employees] going outside policy or not following standard common-sense standards for data security, that could mean their job.”

2. Protect your Systems

Did your work issue you a company computer to access its system?  If so, it’s your responsibility to keep that device secure, along with all the information contained in it.

If you’re using your own computer, make sure you disable any peer-to-peer sharing applications so that your files don’t wind up circulated on the Internet.  And make sure your roommate or spouse doesn’t use your computer while company info is being processed, because that could mean a violation of company policy, according to Miller.

3. Secure your Computer

Make sure your wireless network is password-protected (especially if you live in an apartment building or townhome.)  Also, use a password that isn’t easy to guess (i.e. not your telephone number or street address).

Also, keep your operating system and virus protection software updated to make sure you’re protected from the latest cyber threats, according to the New New Internet’s Michael Cheek.

4. Back up your Data

No matter where you’re working, make sure your data is backed up.  If you’re using a flash drive, make sure you’re using one manufactured with good supply chain management, according to the New New Internet’s Jim Garrettson.

This is important as a sudden power outage can cause you to lose data, and an unsecured flash drive could compromise sensitive information.  If you’re backing something up, make sure you trust your storage medium with your job.

5. Make Yourself Comfortable

Try to minimize distractions by setting up your desk somewhere quiet, away from noisy pets or loud children.  This is especially important if you’re planning on dialing in to any conference calls while you’re away from the office.

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